Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis is standing by Premier Aviation’s promise to employ hundreds at Windsor’s International Airport.
In June of last year, Francis told CBC News he expected Premier to hire between 250 and 300 people within the next two years.
As part of the company lease agreement to use the city-owned, taxpayer-funded $23-million hangar, Premier “locked into agreements with the City,” the mayor said. Part of those agreements call for specific numbers of employees.
The aircraft maintenance company promised to employ 175 people by the end of its second year of operations. Nearing its one-year anniversary, the company announced last week 50 people are employed.
“Those are 50 jobs that we did not have before. Those are 50 jobs in an industry that we did not have before,” Francis told Windsor at 5:30 host Asha Tomlinson in a half-hour interview Friday. “We made a strategic decision, to diversify, and we diversified into maintenance repair overall.”
After seven years, 375 people are to be working at the hangar, the mayor said.
Since it opened, Premier has serviced eight regional aircraft in Windsor. The company claims it is on track to meet its projections of 10 to 12 aircraft of four different types by the end of the year.
“Those planes were not coming to Windsor to be repaired. Those planed were bypassing Windsor and going to Quebec,” Francis said.
The company also has a facility in Trois Rivières, where Windsor employees are trained.
“When you have a start-up like Premier that's saying they're prepared to be your anchor tenant, we're prepared to help [them] launch a maintenance repair facility,” Francis said. “They're creating a new industry for us. They're creating an industry for a city that never had that industry.”
In April, Francis said there is still a lack of skilled trade workers available to work for Premier.
“Granted, it’s taken them longer to upgrade those skills,” Francis said. “I think there will be anywhere from 175-200 jobs but the big caveat right now is training.”
Francis said it’s “not a question of supply” of planes needing repair.
“It’s a question of trained individuals,” Francis said. “The planes, there's a demand that they audit, but there's also a demand specific type of certification to work on any of their planes, so they will get there.”
Premier Aviation did not immediately return email requests from CBC Windsor.